Many current critics will argue that the Gospels are obstacles to understanding the historical Jesus, but I believe they are the means. I think what plagues many modern scholars is a distrust of the past itself, an almost disdain for people of the past. We live in an “enlightened” age in which we seem to almost study all the horrible things in the past—colonialism, slavery, sexism, war, ignorance, oppression—as if looking for little happy things that stand out because they are like the values we have today. In this way I think most current historians and textual scholars dismiss the Scriptures. As Bauckham quotes Coady,
“The independent thinker is not someone who works everything out for herself, even in principle, but one who exercises a controlling intelligence over the input she receives from the normal sources of information whether their basis be individual or communal.” Continue reading →
As with our friend we studied with, we had grown up simply weaned on the idea that since the Holy Spirit directed the writing of the Gospel, God just straight up told each writer what to write word-for-word. This doesn’t explain, for example, why Luke tells Theophilus that he himself researched the Gospel accounts before writing his. So the idea of defending scriptures by appealing to them being well-researched by their authors was actually somewhat new to me. Instead, I was used to them being defended on the grounds that proof of their accuracy was direct proof of their divine origin, regardless of any research done into the story. Continue reading →
Whether or not he actually put pen to paper to do it, John the Beloved (who is also John the Elder) wrote the Gospel of John. Four large chapters were spent on this disciple. The Gospel is written the way it is, our author argues, so that original readers would be surprised by the fact that John wrote it. Once original readers get to the end of the Gospel, they have learned enough about John to consider him worthy of being a source of the story, and that is when his identity as the storyteller becomes clear to that audience. Continue reading →
In his book, Bauckham explains that although Mark’s Gospel bears his name, Peter is preeminent to the story as a witness, the main reason being that Peter exemplifies the experiences of the disciples as a whole, and exhibits their qualities in extremes. “He is typical of them all in his failure, but surpasses them in the manner of his failure.” Peter is the best choice, because we can all identify with him, not to mention his history with Christ and the apostles. He’s also prominent in all 4 Gospels, not just Mark. And the fact that he allows the story of his own denial to be told—that’s powerful testimony of honesty! Continue reading →
By far, most recent scholars accept the twelve disciples as a real group. The 12 are listed, not merely as individual sources for parts of the story, but as a singular and overall collective source of the entire story. They were people who lived on after the resurrection and continued to teach of the events they witnessed together. Most people who get into this subject, skeptic or faithful, hear often of the harmonization of the Gospels. One of the harmonies is the lists of the twelve, including their epithets.
Ever wonder why certain people are mentioned by name in the Gospels, and others not? Bauckham explains in his book how people are named because of their role as eyewitness to the story they participate in. Cleopas, for example, didn’t have to be named, but was, possibly to identify him as an eyewitness. Continue reading →
Papias was a bishop of Hierapolis, a 3rd generation Christian who compiled oral reports of the life of Jesus. In his book, Bauckham spends a great deal of time on Papias, who naturally assumed that the elders he received his reports from had spoken with the disciples of Jesus directly. Continue reading →